Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feb 23 2009 What are you training for?

This seems to be the most commonly asked question lately. While most of my friends are training for the upcoming Seaside ½ Marathon followed by the Gulf Coast Triathlon I happen to be training for the biggest all-around trial of my life to-date, it not only encompasses the physical, but the mental and the spiritual. With 40 days to go until surgery I don’t feel completely prepared.

The past two weeks have been a bit trying both physically and mentally. Although I am training for the Seaside ½ Marathon as well (and my wife Kim will be doing Seaside too) the mileage has really increased for me. The week of Feb 7 I logged 49.4 miles (this included the Pensacola Bridge-to-Bridge 15k) and the week of Feb 14 I logged 37.7 miles (plus 71.0 miles on the bike.) but who besides my Garmin 305 is really counting? My daughter Allison asked me what I was running from? Out of the mouths of babes! So I attempted to explain it using the analogy of the Lipitor commercial. Do you remember the commercial with the skier slaloming down the double diamond expert run while traversing moguls with the “cholesterol number” affixed to his back? No matter how fast he was skiing or how quick he cut or what type of aerial he maneuvered that number was still there and there was no escape. Until he used Lipitor then he was able to reduce it and maintain it, so they said. Well no matter how far, how fast or how long I run the Cancer is still there. Don’t misunderstand me the LOVE OF RUNNING exists but ultimately it is acting as a release mechanism for something much bigger. I guess I’m monitoring my vital signs, the elevated heart rate, the shortness of breath, the beating in my chest, the feeling of throwing up in the heat of the sprint, the perseverance – it all reminds me that I am alive and well?

I won’t forget the phone call from my friend and urologist, Dr. Jenkins (Mike), “this is the hardest call I’ve had to make, but the results came back positive, you have prostate cancer.” Yes Brett, you have Cancer, at 41, in relatively great shape, religious about physicals, in-tune with your body, IT DOES NOT DISCRIMINTATE. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are not invincible and you are not in control. But the difficulty this past few weeks seems to be that I have no symptoms, not one, just an elevated PSA (2.0) number and dually confirmed positive lab results for one of twelve core samples testing positive in black and white on paper. No pain, no suffering, no physical confirmation. You see I know that they are out there in hospitals awaiting their radiation, their chemo, their lab, their latest results, suffering, struggling and not knowing what lies ahead for them. Will they live or die? I am thankful, grateful, praising God that Mike was aggressive, that I have been diagnosed early, that I have no symptoms and that I have been placed in the hands of the World’s finest surgeons. But I cannot help but feel like I’m cheating Cancer. I know this sounds crazy? I’m not asking for symptoms, the sickness, the side-effects, the long suffering – but just trying to rationalize it.

So I RUN! It helps, but when I look over my shoulder, still there, I look in the mirror, still there, I step on the scale, still there and I check the Garmin, still there. So there it is, as I try to release this to you. I guess I’m scared, scared of the lack of control in the situation, that this surgery; the removal of the affected prostate and the recovery of my physical functions (that we men take for granted: urinating and sexual function) will be based on the precision of my surgeon and the healing following my surgery. I realize I have taken the advocacy into my hands and by God’s grace been provided with a great team of doctors and supporters. So I cannot be any more prepared except for ensuring we are prayed up.

I cannot say enough about my reliance on my family, friends and complete strangers. My support network has become unbelievable; my wife and kids, my family, my closest friends, my church, other churches and people within the cancer kinship. The response and communication from this blog has been awesome (I thank Paul Peavy, Darren Ritch and the Vinecki family for transparency and their inspiration in it.) I can’t explain to you or measure the source of strength to someone diagnosed with Cancer to personally know someone facing the disease or that has survived. The shared experiences are empowering. It has really shown me the genuine goodness, kindness and love in people, another lesson built by design for me.

My running list of lessons learned to date (note to self: these are ALL areas in which you struggle):

1. you are not in control – God is

2. it’s not about you – it’s about Him

3. people are genuinely good, kind and loving

Lastly, if any of you are interested in more information dealing with Prostate Cancer, these 3 sites are full of great hope, great inspiration, great perseverance and great research;

1. Michael Vinecki http://www.michaelvinecki.blogspot.com/

2. Darren Ritch http://www.darrenritch.blogspot.com/

3. Darren http://www.prostatebiopsyblog.com/

4. Rabbi Ed Weinsberg http://http://www.conquerprostatecancernow.com/


  1. Brett,

    You are an amazing person, the physical things you can do are simply awesome and inspiring. Keep up the great work, God will use you for his glory and will always be with you and your family. Good luck to you guys in the triathlon and am rooting for you! Only 39 days left, I will keep you in my prayers! Attitude is everything!

  2. Hi, Brett

    I'm a friend of the Darren Ritch (see the preceding comment) ever since I sent him my book, Conquer Prostate Cancer: How Medicine, Faith, Love and Sex Can Renew Your Life, and since we exchanged blog sites - mine is www.ConquerProstateCancer.com.
    As a prostate cancer surivivor for nearly 2 years, I concur with your statements, - especially about the reassurance and uplift you can get from faith, family and friends.
    However, as I note in my book, I think there is a lot you yourself can do to prepare for the surgery treatment you have chosen.
    Knowledge is power and the cancer is slow growing, and you have youth on your side (I'm 24 years older), in terms of regaining your urological and sexual functions.
    Feel free to visit my site to read some useful information at no charge, or to get the book on the Amazon link at my website.
    Meantime you can count on my being yet another person who is praying and rooting for you.

    -Rabbi Ed Weinsberg, Ed.D., D.D.(Sarasota, FL)